One of the reasons why Shameless has been so successful is that the Gallaghers are so relatable. They aren’t wealthy high-schoolers with impeccable fashion and unrealistic problems. In fact, the Gallaghers could be your neighbors in any city in America who struggle with addiction, law enforcement, and family conflict.
The actors in Shameless do an incredible job of resembling normal life in America, but in real life, they are nothing like their troubled characters. See what the cast of Shameless looks like out of character.
William H. Macy As Frank Gallagher
Only the talented William H. Macy could portray such a conflicting character like Frank Gallagher. Frank is the series patriarch who, for better or for worse, is a major part of his kids’ lives. When he’s not at the local bar with his friend, Frank is passed out at home or getting into fights with his kids.
In real life, Macy has made a career of playing the “everyman down on his luck” thanks to his hit role in the film Fargo.
Emmy Rossum As Fiona Gallagher
Fiona has been the glue of the Gallagher family for nine seasons of Shameless. She is the oldest of the Gallagher children and over time has had to take on the “mother” role for her younger siblings. She’s a hard worker who will do whatever she can to provide for her family.
In real life, Fiona is played by the beautiful and talented Emmy Rossum. After nine seasons of Shameless, Rossum decided to move on to other projects but her character will always be remembered.
Ethan Cutkosky As Carl Gallagher
The second youngest Gallagher kid always seems to be getting into trouble. He may have started out the series young and innocent, but we’ve had to watch Carl Gallagher have continued run-ins with the law and even serve a year in juvenile prison.
In real life, Carl is played by Ethan Cutkosky and he’s starting to take after his character. In 2017, he was arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles. Hopefully, he’ll see the light and return to focusing on his budding acting career.
We’ve watched the next actress grow up right before our eyes as the third-youngest Gallagher.
Emma Kenney As Debbie Gallagher
Debbie Gallagher is played by the talented young actress Emma Kenney. Debbie has always put up a tough appearance to stand with her family but she’s also known for having a heart of gold. She’s especially protective of her siblings and, eventually, her own child.
The actress who portrays Debbie has been in show business since she was five years old. Shameless isn’t the only show Kenney stars on. She was cast in the reboot of Roseanne in 2017 and in its spin-off show, The Conners.
Cameron Monaghan As Ian Gallagher
Cameron Monaghan has been a favorite by critics and fans of Shameless by portraying the gay, bipolar teenager Ian Gallagher. He often doesn’t make the best decisions but Monaghan does an incredible job of showing the inner struggle going on within Ian.
Outside of Shameless, Monaghan has had an incredible acting career despite only being in his twenties. Notably, he has starred as the twins Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska in the television series Gotham.
Next, see what the troubled character Lip looks like in real life.
Jeremy Allen White As Phillip Gallagher
Also known as “Lip,” the second-oldest Gallagher child is also the smartest but has made some of the worst decisions. While Lip holds an incredible 4.6 GPA, he also has terrible judgment when it comes to women and frequently turns to alcohol like his father.
The actor who portrays him, Jeremy Allen White, is less focused on women and drinking and more focused on acting. He has landed roles in shows like Law & Order and Homecoming. It seems like White’s career is just getting started.
Shanola Hampton As Veronica Fisher
Best known as “V” by her BFF Fiona, Veronica Fisher is the next door neighbor to the Gallaghers and often provides advice for Fiona when it comes to her siblings. She had a promising career as a nurse until one wrong decision left her working as a webcam girl.
The woman who plays V, Shanola Hampton, has been nothing but successful. Hampton has starred consistently in shows since her acting debut in 2001 and has been married to producer Daren Dukes since 2000.
You won’t believe what V’s husband looks like without all those tattoos.
Steve Howey As Kevin Ball
Kevin Ball is V’s husband and the owner of Frank’s favorite bar, The Alibi Room. While he is used to dealing with Frank’s antics, he’ll often cover his tab on the bar and even cashes his disability cheques for him.
You might recognize the actor who plays Kevin, Steve Howey, from his days starring as football player Van Montgomery on the sitcom Reba. Howey has also starred as Danny Cooper on the CBS drama SEAL Team.
Joan Cusack As Sheila Jackson
Sheila Jackson might be a little dim, but she’s a kind-hearted neighbor to the Gallaghers and eventually becomes Frank’s love interest. Sheila is also the mother of Karen, who is known as the neighborhood bad girl.
Sheila is played by the talented Joan Cusack. Her acting career has spanned 40 years after getting her start on Saturday Night Live. You might also recognize her from the comedies Working Girl, In & Out, and School of Rock.
Isidora Goreshter As Svetlana Yevgenivna
Svetlana is a Russian escort who begins the series as a simple woman for hire and ends up being a major character over the seasons. Svetlana ends up having Mickey Milkovich’s child and at one point, even enters into a throuple relationship with V and Kevin.
The actress behind Svetlana, Isidora Goreshter, is of Russia descent but was born in Long Beach, California. She originally studied classical ballet but turned to acting in her twenties.
The next character is just as charming and handsome in real life.
Justin Chatwin As Jimmy Lishman
Jimmy Lishman is first known as Steve Wilton to the Gallagher family. He spends most of his time courting Fiona until they first out his real name is Jimmy, and that he comes from a wealthy family but is a professional car thief.
The actor who portrays Jimmy is Justin Chatwin. Chatwin has made his name in Hollywood by acting in multiple big-ticket series like Weeds, Orphan Black, American Gothic, and Doctor Who.
Noel Fisher As Mickey Milkovich
Known for being one of the most aggressive and dangerous characters on the show, Mickey Milkovich is also one of the most complex characters. In the first few seasons, he struggles with his sexual identity as he starts a relationship with Ian, but also impregnates Svetlana and becomes both a father and a husband.
The actor who portrays Mickey, Noel Fisher, has acted since he was 14. Fisher became famous for his roles in Final Destination 2, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Next, Mickey’s younger sister is practically unrecognizable out of character.
Emma Greenwell As Mandy Milkovich
The younger sister of Mickey Milkovich is known in the neighborhood and high school as being very promiscuous. She develops a friendship with Ian after learning of his sexuality and begins dating Lip. Mandy often butts heads with Fiona from being too clingy with Lip and walking around the Gallagher house in minimal clothing.
Landing the role of Mandy of Shameless was actually Emma Greenwell’s first acting job. Getting the gig meant Greenwell had to cancel her plans of flying back home and quitting acting.
Zach McGowan As Jody Silverman
The character of Jody Silverman is one of the stranger ones on the show. He marries Karen Jackson and at one point enters into a sexual relationship with her mother, Sheila Jackson.
The actor who plays Jody, Zach McGowan, is just as memorable. Outside of Shameless, he’s been known for playing rugged characters in shows like The 100 and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Walking Dead. You might also recognize his voice from video games like Resident Evil.
Laura Wiggins As Karen Jackson
Wiggins plays the role of the daughter of Sheila Jackson and wife of Jody Silverman. She begins the series as the neighborhood bad girl in a relationship with Lip. Eventually, after attending Sex Addicts Anonymous, she begins dating Jody and eventually they move to Arizona.
Actress Laura Wiggins is not at all like her character. She normally portrays sweet and innocent characters like in the film Starving in Suburbia. Wiggins also has a budding music career and performs around Georgia.
Nichole Bloom As Amanda
Yet another girlfriend of Lip’s, Amanda quickly becomes hated by the Gallagher family for toying with Lip’s emotions. Over their relationship in seasons 4 and 5, Amanda often mentally and physically abuses Lip and at one point, even posts revenge photos of Lip online.
While Shameless fans know Nichole Bloom as Amanda, she’s better known as Cheyenne in the NBC series Superstore. Younger fans might also remember her first starring role in the teen comedy Project X.
Alessandra Balazs As Jackie Scabello
While Jackie Scabello only appears as a character for part of season 5, she makes a big impact on the show. She is a recovering addict and one of Fiona’s coworkers at Pasty’s Pies. She ends up derailing Fiona’s engagement after dying from a heroin overdose.
The actress who portrays Jackie, Alessandra Balazs, is up and coming in Hollywood. She’s only had small roles in shows like New Amsterdam but we’re still waiting to see which big role she’ll land next.
Jessica Szohr As Nessa Chabon
Fans of Shameless were introduced to Nessa Chabon in season 8. She’s a tenant in Fiona’s apartment building and over time, the two form a close bond. She has to choose sides after Fiona goes head-to-head with Nessa’s girlfriend Mel.
Jessica Szohr is better known for playing Vanessa Abrams on the CW series Gossip Girl and for her role on Twin Peaks. Szohr also landed one of the coveted spots on People’s 100 Most Beautiful Women list.
Chloe Webb As Monica Gallagher
The mother of the Gallagher children has a difficult journey on the show. The older siblings resent her for abandoning the family due to her drug abuse and bipolar disorder. While Monica attempts to come back and be a part of the family, she continues to relapse until she eventually dies in season 7.
Monica is played by the fabulous Chloe Webb. Webb had some experience playing Monica because she got her film debut playing Nancy Spungen, the heroin-addicted girlfriend of Sid Vicious, in Sid & Nancy.
Sherilyn Fenn As Queenie Slott
Queenie is one of Frank’s ex-girlfriends and is actually the mother of his first child, Samantha. She was with Frank long before any of the Gallagher children were born but comes back into his life later on. His love for Queenie is obvious when he begs her to stay but she refuses to be with him again.
The actress who plays Queenie, Sherilyn Fenn, rose to fame as Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks. She even reprised the role in the reboot of Twin Peaks in 2017.
Sasha Alexander As Helene Runyon
Played by the incredible Sasha Alexander, Helene Runyon is a college professor who teaches Lip. The two have an affair in season 5 and 6 but it blows up in their face when Lip’s ex-girlfriend Nichole shares illicit photos of the pair.
Alexander has a long history of starring in television dramas. She got her start as Gretchen Witter on Dawson’s Creek, and as an adult has also played main roles in NCIS and Rizzoli & Isles.
Christian Isaiah As Liam Gallagher
Liam Gallagher is the youngest of the Gallagher family and also happens to be the only African-American sibling. The question of an affair is constantly brought up and eventually confirmed. In the show, the siblings feel overly protective of him because he’s seen as the only normal member of the crazy family.
Liam is portrayed by many different actors over the show, but eventually, Christian Isaiah took over as the oldest version of the character.
Jake McDorman As Mike Pratt
Mike Pratt begins as Fiona’s corporate boss in season 4 but eventually becomes her boyfriend. Mike is responsible and well-natured but Fiona ruins the relationship by cheating on him. Still, he doesn’t hold it against her and at one point even bails her out of prison.
Mike is played by actor Jake McDorman, who has held a ton of starring television roles. He played the main character in the series Limitless and in 2018, joined the Murphy Brown reboot as Murphy’s son Avery.
Sammi Hanratty As Kassidi
Kassidi has only been a part of Shameless since season eight after showing up at the Gallagher’s home while recovering from addiction. She begins a relationship with Carl and the two end up illegally marrying each other. Not long after, Carl realizes just how possessive Kassidi is and has to deal with her many mood swings.
In real life, Sammi Hanratty is deep into a successful acting career. She has had roles in The Vampire Diaries, Pushing Daisies, and multiple Disney Channel shows.
Michael McGill As Tommy
Tommy is the comic relief for the characters on Shameless. He begins the series as a regular at The Alibi Room and often acts as Frank’s voice of reason. Tommy also works as a construction crew manager and gives Lip a job working for him.
Tommy is arguably actor Michael McGill’s biggest role to date. Even though he began acting in 2001, he’s been regulated to mainly guest appearances on shows like E.R., The Office, and The Big Bang Theory.
Sharon Lawrence As Margo Mierzejewski
Margo Mierzejewski is introduced in season 7 and serves as Fiona’s boss and role model. She owns Patsy’s Pies but is a high-school dropout just like Fiona. Over the next two seasons, she helps Fiona get into the real estate business and offers her advice on how to succeed in business.
Margo is played by Sharon Lawrence, who has a long acting career but might be best known for her Broadway talent. Lawrence got her big break starring in musicals like Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof.
Kate Miner As Tami Dameti
Tami Dameti first appears in season 9 and eventually becomes another girlfriend of Lip’s. The start of the relationship is rocky as Tami makes fun of Lip’s sexual encounters. Eventually, she takes a liking to him but not to the Gallagher family. She constantly judges the Gallagher household and wants Lip to leave them.
The actress who plays Tami has held a ton of supporting roles but is more recognizable for her modeling efforts. She’s appeared in campaigns for Gap, Victoria’s Secret, and Levi’s.
Scott Michael Campbell As Brad
Brad makes his first appearance in Shameless season 7 as an aide and confidant to Lip. He is a motorcycle mechanic who also loves knitting and is a possible Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor for Lip. Unfortunately, he relapses in season 9 and Lip then became his sponsor.
Brad is played by Scott Michael Campbell, who is best known otherwise for his movie roles. He starred alongside Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain.
Ruby Modine As Sierra Morton
Sierra Morton enters Shameless in season 7 as the newest employee for Patsy’s Pies and as one of Lip’s new girlfriends. She is a single mother to a son but her ex-husband was a violent addict. That causes her to end the relationship with Lip when he too relapses.
Sierra is played by the talented Ruby Modine. Modine is best known for playing Sierra and has only appeared in two other acting credits.
Rebecca Metz As Melinda
Another co-worker of Fiona’s, Melinda, is the kind-hearted motherly figure at Pasty’s Pies. She often intervenes when drama from the Gallagher family finds its way into the shop.
The headstrong character is played by Rebecca Metz. She’s made a career out of being supporting characters on television drama series and as a regular on Disney Channel shows. She is also the sister of actress Chrissy Metz which led Rebecca to be cast as an extra on This Is Us.